Ford that defined

popular motoring

Ford Popular, 1953

OVERHEARING a conversation about basic motoring, I could not resist a wry smile after realising that the participants could not have been around in the 1950s when you were sometimes lucky to get two windscreen wipers with bargain basement cars.

One such was the Ford Popular 103E, launched in 1953 - amodel which brought new car motoring to the masses.

At its launch the Popular was Britain's lowest priced car, coming in at under £400 including Purchase Tax.

Closely related to the 1939 Anglia, the Popular offered the chance to drive a new car to those who previously could only afford used models.

And considering that after the Second World War good used cars were in short supply, its success was assured.

So much so that 155,350 Populars were made until it drove into the history books in 1959.

The Popular was powered by a sidevalve 1,172cc, 30bhp four-cylinder engine driving the rear wheels via a three-speed manual gearbox.

The car was very basic with a single vacuum-powered wiper, no heater, vinyl trim and very little chrome, even the bumpers were painted, and the Bakelite dash of the Anglia was replaced by a flat steel panel.

Early Populars also had the single centrally mounted tail/stop lamp of the Anglia, but this changed to a two lamp set up with the lights mounted on the mudguards and a separate number plate lamp.

A car tested by a well-known motoring publication in 1954 had a top speed of 60.3mph and could accelerate from 0-50mph in a dreary 24.1 seconds. A fuel consumption of 36.4 miles per imperial gallon was recorded.

But many, like me will remember that this car defined the word basic.

There was no shelf under the facia and even the boot floor was deleted so luggage had to go on top of the spare wheel. Rear seat access was only via tipping the passenger seat.

Early models had no indicatorstherefore the driver had to rely on hand signals.

Even so, the Popular was an endearing car and at half the price of the newly imported VW Beetle and cheaper that the Morris Minor.

It made its mark in British motoring history by offering not a lot for very littlecash.

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